North Korea has fired its fourth missile in two days despite international condemnation against the tests. Meanwhile, UN chief Ban Ki-moon urged a return to talks on the Korean peninsula to mitigate tensions.
North Korea fired Sunday’s guided missile into the East Sea (commonly known as the Sea of Japan) on Sunday, according to the South’s Defense Ministry. On Saturday, North Korea had fired three short-range missiles, apparently as part of a military drill.
The reported launches follow months of threats from North Korea of impending war with the US and Seoul. In February, a North Korean nuclear test sparked tougher UN sanctions.
Speaking during a visit to Moscow, UN chief Ban Ki-moon, a former South Korean foreign minister, called for the North to halt the missile tests, adding that the country should resume talks with the international community to reduce tensions.
North Korea launched a long-range rocket on Wednesday morning that appeared to reach as far as the Philippines, an apparent success for the country’s young and untested new leader, Kim Jong-un, and a step toward the country’s goal of mastering the technology needed to deliver a nuclear warhead on an intercontinental ballistic missile.
Both South Korean and Japanese officials said the initial indications were that the first and second stages of the Galaxy-3 rocket, called the Unha-3 by the North, fell into the sea along a route the country had previously announced. But the timing of the launch appeared to take American officials by surprise. Just an hour or two before blastoff from the Sohae Satellite Launching Station in Tongchang-ri on North Korea’s western coast, near China, American officials at a holiday reception at the Japanese ambassador’s residence in Washington said they thought the North Koreans had run into technical problems that could take them weeks to resolve.For President Obama, the launching deepened the complexity of dealing with the new North Korean government, after four years in which promises of engagement, then threats of deeper sanctions, have done nothing to modify the country’s behavior.
he Maritime Self-Defense Force transport ship Kunisaki left Monday morning from the MSDF base in Kure, Hiroshima Prefecture, carrying missile interceptors to be deployed in Okinawa for North Korea’s stated plan to launch a satellite.
The ground-based Patriot Advanced Capability-3 interceptors are to be deployed at several locations in Okinawa. The Kunisaki and another MSDF transport, the Osumi, are to arrive at Okinawa in a few days.
North Korea announced Saturday that it plans to launch an “Earth observation satellite” between Dec. 10 and 22, following an unsuccessful attempt to launch a long-range rocket in April.
The first stage has been placed in position at the North’s Sohae launch station, a South Korean government source told Yonhap news agency.
Recent U.S. satellite images shared with the Japanese government indicate that North Korea may be preparing to conduct another long-range missile launch in the near future. The images show the movement of similar equipment to what was used for a previous launch in April of this year. While the Pyongyang government claimed it was launching a satellite into orbit at the time, no such announcement have been made recently and analysts say a missile launch could take place in as little as three weeks.
Osamu Fujimura, Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary, stated on Monday that they will be closely observing North Korea’s activities and are increasing their efforts to gather information about any potential missile launches. The test that took place in April was ultimately a failure, as the rocket crashed into the ocean near the Philippines. However, the event was ultimately an embarrassment for the government which resulted in heavy criticism, as the public was already well-informed of the launch by media and the internet long before the Ministry of Defense stated a “flying object” was seen coming out of North Korean airspace.
North Korea’s last missile test resulted in outcry from Japan, which then called on the U.N. to impose stricter sanctions on the communist nation in an effort to persuade it to abandon its nuclear weapons development. Should Pyongyang be planning another test, it would should surely have a negative impact on the recently launched bilateral talks between the Japanese and North Korean governments. The two countries have already met twice in recent weeks to discuss issues of importance, most notably the abductions of Japanese nationals by North Korean spies, but more meetings are still to be arranged.